The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be

by J.B. MacKinnon

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | September 24, 2013 | Hardcover |

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An award-winning ecology writer goes looking for the wilderness we''ve forgotten

Many people believe that only an ecological catastrophe will change humanity''s troubled relationship with the natural world. In fact, as J.B. MacKinnon argues in this unorthodox look at the disappearing wilderness, we are living in the midst of a disaster thousands of years in the making-and we hardly notice it. We have forgotten what nature can be and adapted to a diminished world of our own making.

In The Once and Future World, MacKinnon invites us to remember nature as it was, to reconnect to nature in a meaningful way, and to remake a wilder world everywhere. He goes looking for landscapes untouched by human hands. He revisits a globe exuberant with life, where lions roam North America and ten times more whales swim in the sea. He shows us that the vestiges of lost nature surround us every day: buy an avocado at the grocery store and you have a seed designed to pass through the digestive tracts of huge animals that have been driven extinct.

The Once and Future World is a call for an "age of rewilding," from planting milkweed for butterflies in our own backyards to restoring animal migration routes that span entire continents. We choose the natural world that we live in-a choice that also decides the kind of people we are.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 240 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.79 in

Published: September 24, 2013

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 054410305X

ISBN - 13: 9780544103054

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– More About This Product –

The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be

by J.B. MacKinnon

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 240 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.79 in

Published: September 24, 2013

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 054410305X

ISBN - 13: 9780544103054

Read from the Book

Chapter 1 Illusions of Nature Picture the first place you thought of as nature. Maybe it was nothing more than a vacant lot in the middle of a city, or a patch of scrub along a riverbank. It might have been a cottage or campground that you visited year after year, or perhaps your childhood home opened onto a forest, a beach, a mountain. Whatever your original vision of nature was, fix it in your mind. Myself, I grew up on a prairie that had no name. I''ve looked into the question, hoping to turn up some lost but interesting name like those I''ve known from other places-Joe''s Snake Field, or Our Lady of the O, or Fountain of Bones-and have come up empty handed. The best explanation I can give for the anonymity of my home prairie is that it seemed to have hardly any history. Why give a name to a patch of grass where nothing much had happened? Even to say it was a prairie doesn''t seem quite right, because it wasn''t flat or even rolling, but instead spilled down from high ridges to a river valley. Still, it was grassy and open to the sky, and in every practical sense it was infinite. My childhood landscape was the northernmost tip of the rain shadow drylands that sprawl up most of western North America, and I could have stepped out of my house and walked a thousand miles to Mexico and been thirsty all the way. It was rattlesnake country and black widow country, and as a boy I was brown skinned and blond haired and so much a son of that sunbaked earth that I wouldn''t flinch if
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Table of Contents

The Nature of the Problem   1
   1. Illusions of Nature   3
   2. Knowledge Extinction   16
   3. A 10 Percent World   33
   4. The Opposite of Apocalypse   47
The Nature of Nature   67
   5. A Beautiful World   69
   6. Ghost Acres   81
   7. Uncertain Nature   96
   8. What Nature Looks Like   112
Human Nature   127
   9. The Maker and the Made   129
   10. The Age of Rewilding   142
   11. Double Disappearance   163
   12. The Lost Island   182
Epilogue   203
Acknowledgments   216
Selected Bibliography   217
Index   224

From the Publisher

An award-winning ecology writer goes looking for the wilderness we''ve forgotten

Many people believe that only an ecological catastrophe will change humanity''s troubled relationship with the natural world. In fact, as J.B. MacKinnon argues in this unorthodox look at the disappearing wilderness, we are living in the midst of a disaster thousands of years in the making-and we hardly notice it. We have forgotten what nature can be and adapted to a diminished world of our own making.

In The Once and Future World, MacKinnon invites us to remember nature as it was, to reconnect to nature in a meaningful way, and to remake a wilder world everywhere. He goes looking for landscapes untouched by human hands. He revisits a globe exuberant with life, where lions roam North America and ten times more whales swim in the sea. He shows us that the vestiges of lost nature surround us every day: buy an avocado at the grocery store and you have a seed designed to pass through the digestive tracts of huge animals that have been driven extinct.

The Once and Future World is a call for an "age of rewilding," from planting milkweed for butterflies in our own backyards to restoring animal migration routes that span entire continents. We choose the natural world that we live in-a choice that also decides the kind of people we are.

About the Author

Journalist and author J.B. MACKINNON coined the term "the 100 Mile Diet," and his book Plenty is widely considered a catalyst of the local foods movement. His essays on natural history have appeared in Orion, Reader''s Digest, and other magazines. He is based in Vancouver, Canada.

Editorial Reviews

"A graceful volume reminiscent of Annie Dillard''s classic Teaching a Stone to Talk . It''s a beautifully written meditation on natural history and memory , full of new revelations about familiar landscapes and species." - The New York Times Book Review "[MacKinnon''s] goal here is to break down distinctions of nature as something apart from us, and his case is buttressed not only by a wealth of scientific investigation but also by some of the best writing about the outdoors that you''ll find anywhere ." - The Daily Beast "Ultimately empowering .There is still the potential for an ethical relationship with the nonhuman world-a new appreciation for the ''novel ecosystems'' we mistake for nature." - Gizmodo " An urgent meditation on the alternately symbiotic and confounding relationship of humanity and the natural world.That understanding of human life as vulnerable and intertwined with the planet may not be a practiced one for many, but MacKinnon makes a passionate case for its necessity ." - Chicago Tribune "A re-enchantment with the natural world may be a necessary prerequisite to the changes we must make to keep that natural world more or less intact. This is deep and lovely thinking and writing. " -Bill McKibben, author of Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist "This book should make your blood run cold; or boil with furious rage against the despoilers of our planet. But perhaps all is not yet lost. MacKinnon tells us that the crisis in the natural world is n
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